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The Beauty of a Silver Lining

Oregon optometrist transitions practice with focus on aesthetics, dry eye

If optometrists and busy practitioners were to search for a silver lining in the COVID-19 pandemic, many have said the time to find and experience the things that are important make the top of the list. Margaret Foley, OD, FCOVD, of Foley Vision Center in Eugene, Oregon, is no different. “In a lot of ways, COVID has been a blessing,” says Dr. Foley. “It’s been a very stressful year due to all the staff issues. There was constantly something.” As the stress and uncertainty seemed unending, “it was robbing me from the whole reason that I chose this profession,” she says. The necessary break from her busy schedule that the pandemic mandated gave her time to step back and assess her priorities. “COVID made me look at everything. What do I do that brings me joy? Dry eye has been my anchor here in the practice,” she says. “How can we better serve patients with other treatments and modalities? That started my journey in aesthetics.”

NEW TRICKS

Dr. Foley’s first foray into the world was with a radio frequency (RF) device called TempSure Envi.  A few months later she brought on intense pulsed light (IPL) introduced to her by an aesthetic company that has an oculoplastics doctor to consult. She found the ease of the process soared above other technologies she had tried. The RF wand heats up the Meibomian glands to improve expression, and encourages collagen and elastin remodelling. When Dr. Foley tells patients that she has a new technology, “Patients say, ‘Tell me more.’” The news keeps getting better, she says, noting, “Now I have a treatment that can avoid medications, remodel your lids, get your glands unclogged and make you a more efficient blinker,” she says. “Plus, as a side effect, it helps minimize fine lines and wrinkles.”

GROW AS YOU GO

An introduction to the practice’s skin care line can be found on the practice website

As Dr. Foley’s passion for aesthetics grew, so did her desire for knowledge and an expanded community. After bringing IPL into the practice, she also began attending medspa conferences, she says. She wanted to learn about what her patients were doing for their skincare and how their products were affecting their skin and eyes. She learned about the neurotoxins that are damaging the ocular surface, inspiring her to help educate her patients on what they’re putting near their eyes. “I have the hand out on all the lotions and potions they use around the face,” says Dr. Foley. Now, Foley Vision Center carries its own branded, eye-friendly skin care line, complete with a morning and night regimen.

Custom educational pieces keep patients informed

As well as offering skin care products, Dr. Foley’s practice has an aesthetician on staff full time. “People love us, and they want to come to us because they trust us for information about the eyes,” she says. “I thought they weren’t going to want to come to an eye doctor for this, but they say, ‘I’m so glad you’re doing this.’” Her patients are thrilled to not have to turn to needles or Botox and find a treatment that’s friendly for all skin types.

Now, Dr. Foley spends her time building on the aesthetics portion of her business, which now includes treatments for scars, age spots and spider veins, and she has recently added Cynosure’s TempSure Envi; a skin-tightening process that also uses radio frequency. “I’m kind of the first one in the ocular space [to use the technology,”] she says.

Going forward, Dr. Foley sees her practice as a blend between aesthetics and the eyes. “It’s been a beautiful marriage,” she says.

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